Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Bid rejected, signals will have to wait

by Chris Schultz

April 12, 2012

Traffic signal improvements will have to wait for autumn.

The Lake Geneva City Council on Monday unanimously rejected a bid submitted by Outdoor Lighting Construction Co. Inc. for Main Street traffic signal improvements at Center and Broad streets.

Alderman Todd Krause said Outdoor Lighting was the only company to respond to a request for bids by the city,

"We'd like to see at least three bids," he said.

Krause said the city's engineering consultant, Crispell-Snyder, is now working with Public Works Director Dan Winkler to "squeeze what expenses they can" out of the proposed project.

According to Alderman Frank Marsala, the bid of $406,325 entered by Outdoor Lighting "is really exorbitant."

After the meeting, City Administrator Dennis Jordan said the city was anticipating bids to be between $250,000 and $300,000. He said the proposed new traffic signals would include turn arrows for traffic going north and south on Center Street and a safety "button" that changes lights to green immediately when approached by a fire truck, police car or ambulance responding to an emergency.

The proposed improvements were the result of a traffic study done last year by Crispell-Snyder.

Winkler said the project has missed its chance for a spring start time. The city will now plan to improve the traffic signals starting in autumn. The time should give the city a chance to lure more bidders, he said.

Last summer, a Crispell-Snyder engineer proposed the city upgrade its traffic signals along Main Street.

According to engineer Sue Barker, the traffic signals at the intersections of Main and Center and Main and Broad streets were installed in 1981 and 1991.

She said traffic light control has been significantly improved since then. She said the traffic light improvements might improve traffic flow.

According to Barker, a "loop detection" system, installed into the pavement, video or a closed radio system can be used by traffic signals to communicate with each other about traffic flow.

In other city business:

- Aldermen voted 6-2 to start the process of turning the city treasurer from an elected to an appointed position. Those favoring the change, including Teresa Klein, the sitting city treasurer, argue that an appointed city treasurer would have to be qualified and would be subject to performance review. The elected treasurer has no job qualifications and is subject only to the voters.

Alderman Terry O'Neill and Alderwoman Arleen Krohn, who opposed the change, said they believe that the ballot box is the best way to hire a treasurer, and that the voters can replace the incumbent treasurer if he or she is not performing adequately.

- Aldermen voted 8-0 to amend the city's outdoor entertainment ordinance. The most significant change is shortening the setback from 300 to 75 feet between a business offering outdoor entertainment and an area zoned residential. Under the ordinance, "outdoor entertainment" includes restaurants who serve food outdoors, and the ordinance refers to zoning, not actual use. Library Park is zoned residential, which means restaurants along Wrigley Street within 300 feet of Library Park cannot apply for a permit to have outdoor dining.

Outdoor entertainment also requires a conditional use permit, which means businesses must get permission from the Plan Commission and the City Council before offering outdoor dining and entertainment.

- Aldermen voted 7-1 to approve adopting two streets in the Meadowlands Subdivision. Streets must meet certain width and construction requirements to be considered city streets. The city's engineers from Crispell-Snyder recommended the city take possession of Joshua and North Andrea lanes, which means residents along those streets will now benefit from city plowing, garbage collection and street sweeping.

Alderman Terry O'Neill, who voted no, said the engineers' letter recommending the streets for adoption by the city did not specifically indicate that they met minimum standards as city streets.